A recent study by Statista found the global wellness economy was estimated at a value of 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020, with the wellness tourism market bringing in a whopping 436 billion dollars. So the good news is that many of us are investing in wellness and self-care. However, the wellness industry is overwhelmingly white.
For example, recent research compiled by McKinsey & Company backs up what many Black wellness seekers know anecdotally, even as the study found that 60 percent of Black consumers prioritized wellness in 2022 over previous years. However, their survey found that unmet needs in the world of wellness are more apparent among Black consumers citing 47 to 55 percent of Black consumers felt wellness services and products left much to be desired.
Luckily, wellness cohorts like Black Girl In Om and OMNoire offer thoughtfully planned retreats that allow Black women to tap into the wellness space with safety and acceptance. But what if you can’t join in on a pre-planned wellness retreat? For some planning advice, we chatted with Samora Suber, somatic life coach and founder of Motivational Yoga, who hosts an annual Worthy Retreat to find accommodations that feel like home.
“I like to plan retreats in places that already have people of color,” Suber tells ESSENCE. “Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Bali are where I’ve hosted past retreats.” Like us, she centers the security of women of color, entrusting her with a wanderlust wellness experience. “I want my ladies to feel like they can fully relax and be themselves, so going to places with cultural similarities help with that process.”
Here are some things to look out for as you plan a solo or girlfriend’s wellness-centered getaway.
Scope out the reviews.
Most of us likely already use reviews to our advantage for everything from Amazon purchases to where to make a dinner reservation. However, more in-depth research for accommodations, Suber says, is vital. “I pay close attention to the reviews,” she tells us. “Usually, people are very honest in reviewing a resort or an experience, so I look for commentary from past guests about their stay, the bedding, the food, the staff, etc., to help make the best decisions for my retreat planning.” In addition, websites like Tripadvisor and Booking.com allow you to search keywords within reviews, so it’s an excellent tool.
Put nature on your wellness booking list.
Nature is proven to help soothe the nervous system, and Suber makes nature an integral part of her planning. “I always look for places immersed in nature,” she shares. “Sunshine, trees, the ocean, or large bodies of water all carry healing properties that most people cannot take advantage of in day-to-day life. Your wellness getaway should encourage you to slow down, get fresh air, and spend more time in nature which helps with grounding.”
Think about amenities.
Hotel amenities might not be at the top of your accommodation wishlist when exploring a new city. But when it comes to a wellness vacation, Suber says it is a good idea to think about beds, spas, pools, and hotel food options. “If you crave activities, think of things that help you get a better sense of yourself and the culture you’re visiting,” she explains. “For example, in Tulum, I like to take my participants to the cenotes, an ancient body of water, where they can learn more about the sacred land and rejuvenate with a swim.”
Let resort websites and social media be your guide.
As we know, representation matters, and Suber says we can use a resort’s website, social media, and word of mouth to check in before booking. “Pay attention to how you learned about the hotel,” she tells us. “If it’s a recommendation from someone you know and trust, that will make it easier to feel comfortable about booking. [However,] if you saw it on an IG ad, but it has no diversity on their page, you may need to research to know if it’s a welcoming environment.”
One more way to do your due diligence that might seem a bit old school: pick up the phone. “Another way to vet hotels is to call them,” Suber shares. “You can usually get a sense of the company culture based on the customer service and by asking specific questions about their staff, guest relations, and values.”
Here are a few wellness resorts to keep in mind as you plan.